Going through separation is tough, particularly if children are involved. It’s best to try and settle differences without taking legal action, but this isn’t always possible and court hearings may be needed.
The Divorce Process
When one partner has filed for divorce against the other partner, the court will send a divorce petition. The petition will state why the other party wants a divorce. The petition will give the option of agreeing or disagreeing to it. Along with the copy of the divorce petition, there will also be a ‘notice of proceedings’ sent by the court which is to keep as a record for the parties involved. Once the forms are filled in and returned, the divorce process will continue as normal.
Divorce is usually a two-stage process. Firstly, the court grants a conditional divorce order and then later they will need to make the order final. The divorce process is started when all the papers are sent back to the court and the initial fee of £410 has been paid.
In order to have the divorce granted, either side involved needs to prove grounds for divorce. In legal terms, this is called an ‘irretrievable breakdown’. For a marriage to be labelled as irretrievably broken down, one of the following points must be proved:
- unreasonable behaviour
- one partner was deserted at least 2 years ago
- both sides have lived apart for 2 years and both agree to divorce
- both sides have lived apart for 5 years and 1 side does not agree to divorce.
Going to Court
If both sides agree to the divorce then no court hearing is needed, and the court will most likely grant an order.
If children are involved in the divorce, the court will need be shown that satisfactory arrangements have been made and that the children are content with the arrangements. After this, the first divorce order will be issued. 6 weeks later, the person that originally applied for the divorce can apply for a final order, this is known as a ‘decree absolute’. Once the decree absolute has been issued, the divorce is final and the people involved are no longer considered married.
The Divorce Settlement
Divorce can be a relatively simple procedure as long as both sides agree to the conditions. However, on separation certain arrangements need to be made, and these can often not be agreed upon. Disagreements can arise over:
- where the children live
- maintenance levels
- dealing with debts
- disposal of assets.
Many people hire solicitors whilst going through divorce to increase their chances of gaining more from the settlement. A solicitor can be very helpful, but divorce is renowned for being expensive and getting many people in to debt, so it may be worth trying an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation. Mediation could help you to come to agreement also leave both sides in a more settled position. You must have tried mediation if you end up going to court over your settlement.
Divorce can be a very lengthy process. Even if both sides agree to the conditions, it can take up to six months. It is best to try and settle differences before the court process starts, as this can save time in the future. It is also preferable after years of marriage to leave the relationship amicably and retaining levels of respect for each other.